Tag Archives: Promotion

Lessons Learned from Winning International Travel

me before you sweepstakes poster

On July 7, 2016 I received an e-mail notifying me that I had won a trip for two to London.  I had one year to take the trip, and the time is finally here.  I will be in London from May 1 – May 7.  My trip includes airfare, hotel, breakfast, some tours, an English tea, and more.  It’s the middle of the night as I write this post because I am too excited to sleep.  I have been buying travel supplies and packing.  But I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned through this process.

  1. Have your passport before you enter to win an international trip. Once I won and accepted, I had to fill out forms including my current passport information within the week.  Obviously, if you didn’t already have a passport this would not be enough time to obtain one.  That may mean you would have to forfeit the prize.  Luckily, I had prepared myself by applying for a passport at the beginning of that year “just in case” I won a trip!

 

  1. Read your passport. There is a lot of information about how to fill it out properly, about international travel and who to contact if your passport is stolen.  One piece of great advice is to make copies of the data page and keep them in different places just in case.

 

  1. When to expect your details and trip itinerary. Even though it has been almost a year since I won the trip, I did not receive my finalized travel and booking information until one month before the trip.  This may vary depending on the sponsor, but just know it may not be something you will receive immediately.

 

  1. Check your reservations for accuracy. When I received my plane reservation, I noticed that they had spelled my last name wrong.  Of course, I would not get too far if my identification card and plane reservation names didn’t match.  I simply contacted the travel planner and they quickly made the correction.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for needed alterations of the schedule. The worst they can say is no.  In  my case, I wanted to stay a couple days longer in London to make sure I had enough time to see everything.  I asked if they would still cover the airfare, and the response was yes if it was equal to or lesser than the original airfare plan.  It ended up being to our benefit.  Since the tickets were cheaper by extending the trip, the sponsor ended up including more fun things for the days they covered.  I will simply have to pay for another hotel for those remaining two days.

 

I am looking forward to sharing the outcome of the trip with my readers when I return.  Perhaps I will learn a few more lessons, but hopefully it will just be great fun and memories to report.

Turning Down a Prize

thank you lemur

I’ve been meaning to write a sweepstakes post about this since the beginning of January.  What happens if you need to turn down a prize and why might you do so?  Well, January 9 was the first time I had to deal with these questions in all my years of sweeping.  At that time, I got an e-mail that I won an Oscar Red Carpet Experience in the PEOPLE’s Red Carpet Oscars Fan Experience 2017 Sweepstakes. At first I was excited at the prospect of getting to view the Oscars and see all the stars!  But then I realized certain expenses such as airfare were not covered.  I knew it would be difficult to come up with the extra money at that time, but also did not want to miss out on a once in a lifetime experience.  I am a member Sweeties Secret Sweeps which has a forum where fellow sweepers can ask each other questions and advice.  I posted my dilemma there, and got responses ranging from people that had won this prize in previous years and recommended going, to those that said the expense did not seem worth what you got unless you were a superfan.

In the end, I simply sat down and added up all the potential expenses and compared that to the value of the trip, and I decided that it was not something I should do at that time.  What should you do if you are in a similar situation?  While it’s an individual choice, an article on The Balance may help you make that decision.  The article talks about avoiding turning down prizes, reasons for turning down prizes, and how to turn down the prize.  You can check out this article here.

While I hope you will never have to face this dilemma, some of the ideas and advice in this post and that article should help you make an informed and satisfactory decision.

Sweepstakes Resolutions

newyearpop

While 2016 was my best sweepstaking year yet, I’m still not sorry it’s over.  During the year I was diagnosed with melanoma, but it was successfully removed.  In fact, tomorrow is my first three month check up since the surgery.  Last year I also submitted a proposal to teach a class on sweepstaking for community education, but it was denied.  So I have some strong resolve for 2017 to accomplish the following:

  • Schedule monthly meetings of the Boise Sweepstakes Club. If you live in Idaho and want to check us out see our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/boisesweepstakesclub
  • Enter even more sweepstakes
  • Reapply to teach my sweepstaking class, and if my proposal is still rejected then hold a free public class at the library
  • Last year I was rattling around some thoughts on writing a sweepstakes memoir. I hope for 2017 that I will finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get it done!

How did 2016 turn out for you?  Do you have any new sweepstakes resolutions for 2017?  Please let me know in the comments.  Hopefully we can help keep each other motivated this year!

Your Timeline or Mine?

A few weeks ago, in an online sweepers forum that I check every once in a while, someone complained they were not getting their prize in a timely manner.  They had won close to the beginning of summer and here it was almost October. Their main question was will I still have to pay taxes on a prize I haven’t yet received?  Responses to this post assured the prize winner that he would get his prize before the end of the year.  That it was normal for very large companies to take a long time to fulfill the prize.  Others suggested that the prize winner contact, and continue to contact, the prize fulfillment company until he got a clear answer to his question.  Still others said that bothering the fulfillment company does not speed the process along.

I actually didn’t think much of this post because such a situation had never happened to me.  I could not relate to the original post and I could not deliver any advice on the matter.  Until shortly after that when it happened to me!  I won a prize and sent in all my required paperwork.  After not hearing anything, I followed up two weeks later to verify they had received my documents.  I was assured they had and was told I would be hearing from someone soon.  More than a month went by and I got a little concerned.  I reached out one more time, afraid they would see me as a pest but also afraid I would not get my prize.  At this time, I was told that everything was in the final stages and I would be receiving it “soon.”  I have my fingers crossed that I will.

There are some things to remember however.  When you win a large prize from a large company, first the company must verify your eligibility through the paperwork you filled out for them.  Then, the matter is likely passed to a prize fulfillment company, who will have quite a lot of prizes to fulfill from various company’s sweepstakes.  You might not be first in line. But it is usually not the sponsoring company’s fault if things are not fulfilled in a timely manner.  Also, in the case of a big prize, the procurement department of the prize fulfillment company may have some hoops to jump through, paperwork, etc. in order to fulfill the prize.

All this is not to say never follow up.  If done in a polite and well-timed manner, following up on a prize taking a long time to receive can be a good idea.  But don’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that you will never get your prize from a sweepstakes.  We are very excited about our wins and want things to happen on our own timeline, but unfortunately it happens on theirs.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder…

announcementimage

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably noticed that I took a hiatus for about a half a year.  As often happens, life events get in the way.  However, I’m pleased to say that I am back at it, and re-committed to making this blog at least a weekly habit. And just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been sweeping.  In fact, this summer I won the most valuable prizes yet, and had three big wins in a row!

You may remember that one of my sweepstakes resolutions for this year was to teach a community education course on sweepstakes.  Well, I applied to do it but got a gentle rejection that such a class was not what they were looking for at this time.  My mind went wild with why not!  Was there not enough interest in the community?  Was there a problem with how I phrased my proposal?  Or my biggest concern, did they have the wrong Idea about sweepstakes (not understanding they are free or thinking it is a form of gambling).  Because I was notified by letter, I never had the opportunity to speak with them or answer any questions they may have had.

As luck would have it, I noticed that for their fall programs, the community education program was offering a class called Learn to Teach What You Love.  I figured if the problem lay on my end, this would get me organized and ready to teach in the future, so I registered.  The class is happening tomorrow night and I will let you know if it is helpful.

I look forward to hearing from you, my readers, about how your sweepstakes hobby is going, whether you have any questions, or suggestions for future blog posts. I look forward to getting reacquainted with you as summer turns to cooler weather, sports themed sweepstakes, and the mad race toward the holidays!

Unusual Prizes

mystery prize.jpg

One question I’m asked frequently from non-sweepers is what could they win if they entered?  My answer: Just about anything you can think of!  Of course there are more common prizes like trips, cash, clothing, cars, jewelry, gift cards, etc.  There are more specific prizes like tickets to a particular game or event.  There are experiences, like race car driving lessons.  But it doesn’t stop there.

Prizes can be very specific and, if it’s not one you are particularly looking for, can even seem a bit strange.  How about an invasive medical procedure?  You can win that!  CBS Cares ran a Colonoscopy Sweepstakes.  Another procedure – right now a contest local to me is offering free removal of a “bad tattoo” to the winner of its photo contest.  Other very specific prizes I have seen are replica models or to scale figurines of various characters, a three foot tall piece of chocolate, “strange” foods in large quantities, and much more.

But in between the common and strange prizes, there are many other types of prizes to win.  If you can think of a prize, there just may be a sweepstakes or contest to win it.  Try searching for the name of the prize you want to win plus the word sweepstakes and see what comes up.  Also, don’t forget that many sweepstakes listings sites will offer a list of sweepstakes by prize type.

Have you won any prizes you would consider unusual?  Do you usually enter to win unusual prizes?  Let me know in the comments what your thoughts on this are, and if you have further suggestions for seeking out sweepstakes with unusual prizes.

Also, don’t forget to get your entries in to the giveaway in my January 31st post!

 

Incoming!

Presents

By this time of year, most sweepers are waiting for incoming wins!  It’s a bittersweet time.  The holiday sweepstakes are ending, and most of the year’s contests are coming to a close by December 31.   On the one hand, it’s very exciting to imagine that in the coming weeks those win notifications you’ve been working so hard toward may arrive!  On the other hand, your list of sweepstakes to enter will dwindle until the 2016 sweepstakes start up over the next year, and you can bulk your entry list up again.

Do you like to be surprised by wins or do you prefer a heads up?  Oftentimes sponsors will send a prize via postal service, UPS or other method to your door without notifying you in advance.  While I find this can be fun, I also like the anticipation of waiting for a prize to arrive that I know is on its way.  Because of this, I recently signed up for UPS My Choice.  This is a free membership that, among other things, allows you to be notified if a UPS package is headed your way.  You still have the element of surprise in that the contents of the package are a mystery, but you at least know to expect a package and who it is coming from.

One more word of advice as 2015 winds down and 2016 greets us.  I have been reading many different articles lately that list some of the top scams of the year, and scams to be on the lookout for in the New Year.  Sweepstakes scams and scams involving claims that you have won prizes or money are rampant and top off many of the lists.  So please use caution when giving out information or accepting prizes.  Reviewing my November 16 post entitled “Don’t Fall Victim to Scams” is a good starting point for keeping safe.

Good luck as the 2015 sweeping year comes to a close.  May many prizes come your way!  I’ll let you know if I win anything, and you can do the same in the comments section of any post!

Happy New Year!

And Horror for the Win!

While my primary hobby is entering sweepstakes, I also enjoy watching horror movies.  I usually try to catch them on the big screen for full effect.  So when my two hobbies combine it’s even more exciting!

The upcoming horror movie “The Forest” is set in Japan and follows a young woman’s journey to find her missing sister in the evil forest.  And you can now enter to win a trip to Japan with Fangoria!

Fangoria’s “The Forest” Sweepstakes

Do you have other hobbies that would be fun to mix with sweepstakes?  It’s simple to do a google search for your hobby with the word sweepstakes.  You can also set google news alerts to be notified when your search terms appear in a news article.  That way you can win prizes related to your  other hobbies!

the forest

The Home State Advantage

Local, state, and regional sweepstakes are easier to win.  Unlike sweepstakes open nation-wide, they often restrict entries to those who live in a certain city or select geographic area.  This means there will be a smaller amount of entries into the sweepstakes.  If you don’t live in the select area, you can’t enter.  What this means for you is better odds of winning!

There are many ways that I have been successful at finding local sweepstakes.  The first thing I usually search for are local radio station and television station websites.  They often have a contests or promotions section on their websites.  They want to target their listening and viewing areas, so will often limit entries to people in that geographic area.

Another place I search for local sweepstakes is my local mall.  Sometimes local shops and jewelry stores will run promotions to get customers in.  The website for your local mall may have a section for what is happening in their stores that includes drawings.

And don’t neglect other local businesses, especially those having a grand opening celebration.  It’s good to keep your eyes and ears open to mailed flyers and radio announcements for a new store opening or celebrating an anniversary.  Often these businesses will try to get you in the door by offering great prizes like shopping sprees, cash, gift cards, and more!

Have you heard about a local festival or event that is going to have businesses (and sometimes nonprofits) tabling?  I have picked up both freebies and sweepstakes entries at these events.  In fact, last night I attended a local community fundraiser.  Even though I had to buy a ticket to gain entry, I had a great time and was able to enter two sweepstakes.  One for a Christmas tree loaded down with sweet stuff and another for $1000.

And if all else fails, you might try to do a google search for your city or state with the word “sweepstakes.”  You might be surprised what comes up!  Just remember, true sweepstakes are no purchase necessary.

For more local and regional sweepstakes you might also check out a site that I just joined called Sweeties Secret Sweeps.  I have not been a member very long, but there were a number of local sweeps I did not find on my own listed there.

However you go about it, I wish you much luck in finding good odds sweepstakes!

Sweeping: A Solitary Hobby or a Chance to Make Friends?

girl in chair at computer

I’ve tried twice to start a local sweepstakes club.  The first time was in California.  I had about a dozen people sign up on our website to join the group.  But when it came down to attending a meeting, the only one that showed up was my mother-in-law.  She was not a sweeper but showed interest in learning and wanted to support me.  I kept the club going a few months, but never had anyone attend one of our meetings at a local coffee shop.

The second time I tried to start a local sweepstakes club was in Idaho.  I had about half dozen people sign up, 3 of which included friends of mine who wanted to learn but were mostly there to support me.  Others wrote on the website that they wanted to learn and wanted to attend meetings, but no one else ever showed up in person.

People have pointed out to me that it is a solitary hobby – for the most part you sit in front of your computer, alone at your desk at home.  Others have said it’s probably because people do not want to share promotions they know about or their methods because they want less competition.  But I do not think either of these statements are true.

First of all, while entering online sweepstakes is a hobby pursued from your personal computer, people do indeed seek out fellow sweepers to socialize with.  Contest Queen keeps a list of successful clubs around the nation.  Also there is a large annual National Sweepstakes Convention.  This year they are limiting attendance to 700 people.  That’s a lot of sweepers who want to come together and meet, learn, socialize, and win!

Second, sweepers share their methods and the promotions that they enter all the time!  That is why there are sweepstakes websites (by hobby sweepers) set up to share information.  Plus there are books and pamphlets on Amazon geared at teaching people how to begin this hobby.  And there are blogs, like this very one, to share links, ideas, and more!  I even post interesting promotions on a Facebook page called Boise Sweepstakes Club.

That definitely doesn’t make sweepers seem like secretive loners!  So it’s a mystery to me why in some areas it is harder to start a sweepstakes club or find fellow sweepers to socialize with.  Any ideas?